Quiana Quillen, 8, from Antlers, Oklahoma, has been chosen as a national competitor for the USA Gymnastics Talent Opportunity Program.
As part of the TOPs program, Quiana will compete in October against the top 100 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds in the nation for the 50 spots on the A team and to go on to attend a National Training Camp.
Quiana trains more than 30 hours per week under the instruction of Kim Hevron at Gymnastics Power House in Paris.
“(Kim) started training TOPs with Quiana on March 6, and Quiana couldn’t hold a two-second handstand, let alone a 30-second one, couldn’t climb the rope, and couldn’t do any of her physical abilities,” said MaiLynn Jones,
It all started when Quiana was 4, Jones said. Her mother enrolled her in tumbling class, thinking if Quiana wanted to be a cheerleader when she was older, then she would be set. But, it didn’t quite work out that way.
“She got the buzz,” Jones said. “She was asked to join the team when she was 5.”
After moving Quiana to Power House earlier this year, Jones said Coach Hevron came up to her and said she could train Jones’ daughter for TOPs.
“I had to go home, and I Googled it to see what it was,” she said.
To get into the TOPs program, Quiana attended several assessments in June, and her scores were compared to thousands of other gymnasts in her age group, according to Kiersten Ward, one of the gymnastics coaches at Power House.
Quiana is happy about the TOPs designation, Jones said, but doesn’t quite grasp what it means.
“I mean, she’s 8,” Jones said. “I don’t think she realizes how neat that is.”
The TOPs program is a major step forward in gymnastics competitions, according to Hevron.
“The TOPs program is the door to the elite program,” she said.
Gymnasts from TOPs feed into the developmental program, for 9- to 13-year-olds, and then the gymnasts move into national qualifiers and compete as elites at national championships, Hevron said. Power House has had about 10 of their students join the TOPs program, she said.
“She’s smart, she listens and she’s very coachable,” Hevron said.
In October, Quiana, her mother and her coaches will travel to Indianapolis, Indiana, to compete in the TOPs program.